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joshryan's picture

Midnight, Said Right

By joshryan in Arrest Us

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Midnight, Said Right is set in a small town in the state of Washington. A high school loser and bank manager will eventually cross paths to discover the contents of a mysterious box brought to the United States from Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. 



Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow July 6, 2014 - 1:00pm


I'm sorry, but this one didn't work for me.  More often than not, the prose is unclear to the point where I have no clue what you're trying to say in certain spots.  When you introduce James Daniels, you show him in a classroom for a quarter of a page and then jump to his home life without any ceremony whatsoever.  It makes me wonder why you showed him in the classroom to begin with.

Beyond the prose, the plotting of this piece leaves a lot to be desired.  Throughout the story, I was wondering if all these character introductions were going to lead to something and when I read the final words (spoiler warning), "to be continued," I was thoroughly disappointed.  Unfortunately, I didn't understand any of these characters' motivations to want to read any more.

Dylan Mackey's picture
Dylan Mackey from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Wake Up Dead by Roger Smith July 17, 2014 - 9:35am


Have to agree with Damon for the most part, though I do see flashes in your writing, specifically in terms of imagination/creativity.

I liked the title, it was a grabber, and some of the dialogue had good humor.

I'd say, flesh out your thoughts (plot) a little more and give this piece a solid re-write.

I like the premise though.

I think you're on the right path for sure.

Josh Zancan's picture
Josh Zancan from Crofton, MD is reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck July 18, 2014 - 1:34pm


Regarding the prose, I thought it was solid.  It has a great voice, and, unlike previous comments, I understood what you were saying clear as day.  Of course, this isn't a completed storyline, but based on what you have here, I wish I could read more.  The characters are interesting, and their situations are interesting.  

The one piece of criticism I have is to slow it down a bit.  You have seven scenes in 7.5 pages.  That is fast.  I'd like to spend some more time with the characters as you introduce them.  It's like you give us the basics of the scene--the bare bones of it--then move on.  And don't get me wrong, the bare bones you have are good.  But I'd like some more meat in the scenes.  Go deeper into what's happening using what you have here as the base.

I recommend that before you do any of that though...finish the story.  Even if all you have is the bare bones of it, that's fine.  Like I said, your bare bones are good, and will prove something worthwhile to build off.

Hope this helps,



Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 20, 2014 - 5:23am

I think you've got an interesting concept, but you need to slow down the changes and clear up the story a little. The rapid scene shifting and minimal prose made the piece tough to follow, and as the piece went on I found myself getting mildly lost, here and there. The piece doesn't end, either, and so I can only judge what is there. I think you need to stretch out some of the scenes and add a little more detail, but that's just my opinion. Best of luck.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday July 22, 2014 - 8:17am


I enjoyed this piece.  Yes, it moved along a bit faster than I would prefer, but it never lost me.  My only compaint is that it's a to be continued.  You did an excellent job with Fritz's back story, and maybe it could have been the entire focus of the piece to create a story with a solid beginning and end.  That being said, I dug it, so well done.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 22, 2014 - 1:17pm

I found this one very hard going, and really did have to force myself to keep going. There are flashes in here which shows you have solid potential, but I just found the story to be unengaging, and full of flaws.

A short story is pretty hard to write. You have to produce something with a complete arc over a pretty short word count. If you start with something intriguing as you do here, you have to fulfil that promise. No short story should end with the words, “to be continued”. You are simply trying to squeeze too much story into short a space. What we get is a story that lurches around and doesn’t allow us to get into anyone’s mind-set. The characters are undercooked, though there are some promising set ups, and we just don’t get a flavour for who they are properly.

I’m a great believer that every story has a natural length. I suspect the natural length for this one is a lot longer than 5,000 words. My advice is just write it how you see fit, without limits, and then evaluate from there. Best of luck with it.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 23, 2014 - 11:36am

I had a hard time with this story. Here are a list of things that came up while I was reading.  I think that you introduce too many characters to develop any of them significantly. Show us that the mother's awful in a few scenes that prove it rather then telling us she's bad. Liz and Randy are insignificant to the story and, while they have a bit of background they don't have any development. The story could have worked without them. 

I was confused about the murder of Fritz's Mother. You say, it had to end and immediately mention that she's been killed. It seemed to me at this point that Fritz's father killed her for being abusive, but that seemed out of character since he only is portrayed as foil to her. The voice of reason and responsibility. Fritzy doesn't have any reaction to his mother's death until he's already dug a hole, washed the floor and discovered a mysterious box. When he does ask what happened the father just says "they're coming" which leads me to wonder if "they" killed his mother. His father's suicide further confuses me and implies that he killed his wife out of mercy before killing himself; putting them both out of the misery "they" might inflict. As I said, I'm very confused about this part.

I made a few minor notes about James as well. You describe him as a punk and a thief and then immediately say that he spends his class time doodling. This created two different characters to me. one that is a criminal and another who's just the classic kid who can't focus in class. He says that he doesn't need school, but he still goes for some reason, despite the fact that he lives away from his family, with two dropouts no less. Maybe if you spent a little more time with his character, maybe there's something redeeming about school for him. Friends or a special interest in one course.

I hope that some of what I said helps you. I don't mean to be too harsh. It just seems like you needed to spend more time on this one. I can tell by your tone that you have a good idea about how to write.